Latest Appointments and Awards in Music (November 2023)

Pianist Joe O’Grady, winner of the 2023 Top Security Frank Maher Classical Music Awards (Photo: Peter Houlihan).

Latest Appointments and Awards in Music (November 2023)

A round-up of recent appointments and awards in music, compiled by Shannon McNamee, with news from the Frank Maher Classical Music Awards, the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, the NI Music Prize, University of Galway, Scottish Opera, the Irish Youth Wind Ensemble, BBC Radio 1, the Barbican, the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, and the BBC Philharmonic.

Pianist Joe O’Grady, a 17-year-old sixth-year student at Gonzaga College, Dublin, has been awarded the top prize at the 2023 Top Security Frank Maher Classical Music Awards.

The award carries a prize of €5,000 that can be used to assist in the winning musician’s education and career. Six finalists competed on 27 October at the Royal College of Physicians in Dublin. O’Grady performed Prokofiev’s Sonata No. 7, 2nd movement, and Sonata No. 7, 3rd movement.

The other finalists each received a €300 bursary. They were: Eve Donohoe (17), Loreto Secondary School, Wexford (violin); Ava Duffy (17), Coláiste Íde, Dingle (piano); Christopher Furlong (17), Coláiste an Spioraid Naoimh, Bishopstown, Cork (piano); Lucia Murphy (18), Limerick Tutorial College, Limerick City (violin); and Anna Varga (18), Celbridge Community College, Kildare (cello).

The judging panel, chaired by Dr Gerard Gillen, Emeritus Professor of Music at Maynooth University, included Dr Kerry Houston, Veronica McSwiney and Brian O’Rourke.

The awards aim to celebrate outstanding young musical talent among Irish sixth-year students of strings, woodwind, brass and piano. Previous winners include violinist Daimee Ng (2022), pianist Stan O’Beirne (2021), violinist Julieanne Forrest (2020), cellist Michael Murphy (2019), and pianist Kevin Jansson (2018).



Joe O’Grady (Photo: Peter Houlihan)

The Irish World Academy of Music and Dance has announced Dr Conor Caldwell as the new Co-Director of the Blas International Summer School of Irish Traditional Music and Dance. Dr Caldwell, currently the course director of the MA in Irish Traditional Music Performance, will join Dr Breandán de Gallaí in leading the 28th edition of the Blas programme.

‘I am excited about the opportunities that await us in 2024 when we once again open up our doors to students and visitors from around the world,’ said Dr Caldwell. ‘Blas offers a significant range of academic, musical and personal development opportunities for students, as well as a chance to work with some of the very best and most exciting musicians that our tradition has to offer.’



Dr Conor Caldwell


The NI Music Prize took place on 15 November at Ulster Hall in Belfast with a number of awards presented on the night and performances by Paul Brady, post-punk band Chalk, uilleann piper Conor Mallon and queer punk band Problem Patterns. 

The Album of the Year award was presented to Belfast-based Mark McCambridge, performing as Arborist, for An Endless Sequence of Dead Zeros; Single of the Year went to alt-rock band Moonboot for ‘To U’; Chalk were presented with the award for Live Act of the Year; Video of the Year was awarded to Problem Patterns for their single ‘Who Do We Not Save?’; and Paul Brady was presented with the Oh Yeah Legend Award.



Mark McCambridge, who performs as Arborist (Photo: James Ward)

The University of Galway has announced that it will award Frankie Gavin with an Honorary Doctorate of Music in recognition of his contribution to Irish music. The award will be presented as part of the winter conferring ceremonies on 24 November.

Gavin is a renowned and hugely influential traditional fiddle player, flute player and composer who has performed worldwide for over five decades. He was a founding member of De Danann and was awarded the Gradam Ceoil TG4 Musician of the Year award in 2018.



Frankie Gavin

Scottish Opera has announced its Emerging Artists for the 2023/24 Season. The group includes baritone Ross Cumming, soprano Inna Husieva, tenor Monwabisi Lindi, costume trainee Lovisa Litsgard, mezzo-soprano Lea Shaw and repetiteur José Javier Ucendo.

The Scottish Opera Emerging Artists programme, established in 2009, provides young artists with a full-time opportunity, offering a platform to develop their opera careers. Participants perform in Scottish Opera’s live productions and tours and they also engage in in-house training with staff and visiting coaches. The programme including performances at the University of Glasgow and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.



From left to right, Monwabisi Lindi, Lovisa Litsgard, Lea Shaw, Ross Cumming, Inna Husieva and Jose Javier Ucendo (Photo: Christina Riley)

The Irish Youth Wind Ensemble (IYWE) has announced the appointment of Dr Andrew Jordan as their new Ensemble Manager. Dr Jordan, an experienced educator and musician from Limerick, succeeds Karen Ní Bhroin.

Dr Jordan is a former member of the IYWE and has participated in numerous local and national music groups. Currently, he is also involved with the Irish Symphonic Wind Orchestra as a trumpet player and previously served as its chairperson.

He is also a full-time music teacher with the Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board, and works in Limerick Prison. He co-founded the Redemptorist Centre of Music in Limerick in 2010 and continues to conduct the RCM Concert Band, providing tuition in brass instruments and music theory. In addition, he is the musical director of Boherbuoy Limerick.



Dr Andrew Jordan


BBC Radio 1 has announced the recipients of the 2023 Annie Nightingale Presents Scholarship. The initiative, now in its third year, supports emerging women and non-binary DJs in the dance music scene. The scholarship is named after Annie Nightingale, Radio 1’s first female DJ and its longest-serving broadcaster, known for her Tuesday night show featuring new dance tracks.

Nightingale personally selects three DJs each year for their noteworthy contributions to the dance music scene. The chosen DJs receive the opportunity to feature in a special edition of Annie Nightingale Presents on Radio 1.

The 2023 awardees are IMOGEN, a producer and DJ from Southampton; Jay Carder, a UK-based broadcaster and DJ notable for her fusion of UK bass, techno and breaks; and ROSSY, an American DJ and producer who has performed at several major festivals and recently embarked on her debut headline tour following the release of her EP HEAVENS DOOR.




The Barbican in London has appointed Helen Wallace as its new Head of Music, a role she will commence in February 2024. Wallace is moving from Kings Place, where she served as Executive and Artistic Director for six years.

Her career began in music journalism, including roles as editor of BBC Music Magazine and The Strad, and as a critic for The Times. Wallace joined Kings Place in 2009 in an advisory capacity, progressing to Director of Programme in 2018, and subsequently to Executive and Artistic Director. In her upcoming role at the Barbican, Wallace will oversee a varied programme of classical and contemporary music. She will work closely with the Barbican’s resident and associate orchestras, including the London Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Britten Sinfonia, and Academy of Ancient Music, and with Associate Producer Serious.



Helen Wallace

Bill Chandler and Adam Szabo have been appointed as Directors of the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus and the BBC Philharmonic, respectively. Chandler will start his role in December 2023, while Szabo will begin in February 2024.

Chandler, originally from the USA and a former violinist with the Houston Symphony, has been serving as Director of the BBC Concert Orchestra since September 2021. During this time he has increased the orchestra’s presence across the UK, leading to various collaborations including with CBeebies and the London Jazz Festival. He also appointed Anna-Maria Helsing as Chief Conductor of the BBC Concert Orchestra earlier this year.

Szabo, who is currently the Artistic Director and Chief Executive of the Manchester Collective, is a cellist with extensive experience with UK orchestras, including the BBC Philharmonic.



Bill Chandler and Adam Szabo


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For October appointments, see here.

Published on 21 November 2023

Shannon McNamee is Assistant Editor of the Journal of Music.

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